This is not the best time for pastors and imams conducting the work of God in Kaduna State as the state Government is out with serious regulation of their activities.
The State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is sponsoring a religious regulation bill at the state House of Assembly to license religious bodies.
The regulation of course is the aftermath of Shitte and soldiers’ brouhaha in which some members of the Islamic group were killed.
The bill propose that any person found guilty of preaching without a valid licence and other offences under the law “shall be liable to two years in prison or pay a fine of N200, 000.”
Since the bill was forwarded to the assembly for legislation, Christian and Islamic Clerics have been making loud noise against the government, condemning it for trying to trample on their religious rights.
They claimed that the new bill if it is eventually signed into law would negate Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution which presupposes that every Nigerian has a right or freedom of thought, conscience and religion and a right to change religion.
Under this new edict, the government seeks to create an inter-faith Ministerial Committee to be appointed by the governor which will exercise control over Jama'atu Nasril Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
The bill ensures that the ministerial committee shall issue licenses to religious bodies without which the body cannot preach.
It also stipulates that no external preacher can preach in Kaduna without a permit.
The committee also has the power to refuse to issue licenses.
No criteria are given as to what will qualify one to have a license issued to him or for one to be denied a license.
Reacting to this, a Senior Pastor of Omega Fire Ministries (OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleiman, bemoaned the government’s policy as he urged the governor to rescind his decision or face the wrath of God.
He said, “Asking a pastor to obtain licence is against the Constitution of Nigeria, “When you say licence, you are acting against freedom of worship”. The governor should stay off this plan, “unless he wants his cabinet to reduce…people may just sleep without waking up”.